Meatless Monday – Breakfast Galette


Breakfast Gallette12

Are you looking for a special Valentine’s Day breakfast treat for your honey? (Or perhaps, a Valentine’s Weekend breakfast)? Here is a festive twist on your traditional omlette or quiche that looks impressive but is easy to make.

During our summers in Maine, we have a lot of house guests and I like to have an assortment of foods available as people start rolling out of bed. Sometimes its hard boiled eggs, cut up fruit and muffins or bagels, cream cheese and smoked salmon. My favorite though, if I get up early enough, is to make a frittata with whatever veggies I have in the refrigerator. Frittatas are very forgiving, will stay warm for quite a while and are still delicious at room temperature. A galette is more of a cross between a pie and a quiche, more of a rustic free form tart. They can be sweet with apples and cinnamon or savory with vegetables and meats.  This version, with veggies, eggs and cheese is perfect for a rainy/snowy morning paired with a little fruit salad and a hot cup of coffee.  The red pepper makes it Valentine colors and the shape of the red pepper strips really lends itself to making hearts.  I usually form the red pepper into a pinwheel shape but for Valentine’s Day the kitschy hearts are pretty cute.

I know its morning and you don’t want to go to the trouble of making a pie crust-sometimes I don’t either.  You can buy an already prepared pie crust or dough that you can easily roll out into a circle.  There is very good wheat, whole grain and gluten-free dough available which makes this really easy. I like to have them on hand, just in case the whim strikes me to whip up an apple pie or something, especially in the fall when fruit is falling off the trees.  Or you can skip the crust altogether and make a frittata.  For that I would recommend using a cast iron pan which can go from sautéing the veggies right into the oven to bake.  A homemade pie crust is delicious though if you have the time.  Click on the link for easy step by step directions and video:

Breakfast Galette

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Breakfast Gallette13

1 pie crust
6 fresh eggs
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1/Tbsn butter
6-7 mushrooms, sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup assorted cheeses (grated)
1/2 red bell pepper
salt & pepper to taste
Breakfast Gallette2Breakfast Gallette5
  • Roll out dough and place in a pie pan, letting the excess go over the edges.
  • Saute mushrooms until they lose their water, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat and add scallions and mix them in to let them soften.

Breakfast Gallette3 Breakfast Gallette4

  • Crack eggs into a small bowl and beat with a fork.  Reserve a bit of egg white to brush onto crust.  Add red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

Breakfast Gallette6 Breakfast Gallette7

  • In this order, place veggies into pie crust spreading evenly as you go:  zucchini, mushroom mixture and cheese.  Pour egg mixture over the top.  Arrange red pepper strips into a pinwheel or make them into four hearts.

Breakfast Gallette8 Breakfast Gallette10

  • Fold the edge of the crust over so it overlaps and makes and edge.  Brush exposed crust with egg white

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  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the middle has puffed up.  Cut into quarters, it serves four.

Breakfast Gallette16


Happy Valentine’s Day!

Wheatless Wednesday – Fish in Parchment


Fish in Parchment13

Do you ever have days where dinner seems impossible?  One kid has basketball practice and another is at play rehearsal, both done at different times. Your spouse is working late and you just walked in the door.  Sometimes the concept of a healthy family dinner is just that, a concept.  Before you pick up the phone to order Chinese takeout (again) check out my very easy fish in parchment which can be assembled in minutes or pre-assembled and cooked whenever you are ready. This has been a go-to dinner for me over the years because it is just so convenient and I can easily cater to each family members’ personal tastes. I pre-assemble each piece of fish in a square of parchment or aluminum foil and write each person’s name with a sharpie and throw them into the oven as needed.  By far the fastest side is couscous (a huge hit with my kids) which only takes 5 minutes, but since this is Wheatless Wednesday, I will be serving my fish over brown Jasmine rice. Most grains can be cooked ahead of time and will sit and wait until you’re ready and they make a perfect pairing with fish in parchment as the delicious juices add a boost of flavor to what is normally a fairly bland side dish.  The best part of this meal though is the presentation.  I love a ‘pretty plate’ and this is certainly nice enough to impress your dinner guests, plus you can prepare everything ahead of time and clean up is easy.

When they were little boys, my kids’  tastes were very finicky, so I was limited to what vegetables or seasonings I could include. Dylan was a purist, butter and salt only. Jackson liked thinly sliced zucchini circles on his and Eric was more adventurous with red peppers.  As they got older their palate grew right along with them, and I started adding jalapenos, sliced red onions, mushrooms, capers, tomatoes, olives, cooked eggplant, pretty much anything I had available.  The trick is to know your customer and prepare with them in mind.  Parents with picky eaters, take heart.  My boys, who at one time couldn’t have any food touching on their plate, have moved on to gourmet and exotic foods like seared ahi, sushi and escargot.

A light fish like red snapper, tilapia or sea bass are very mild and suit themselves to cooking in parchment.  Cooking in parchment is really steaming the fish in its own juices which is a healthy and tasty way to cook.  The juices also pick up the flavors of any vegetables and seasonings you include and create a delicious ‘broth’.  You can use parchment or aluminum foil but foil cooks a bit hotter, so fish might get done more quickly, and some ingredients will react with it, especially lemon juice and wine.

Fish in Parchment

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Fish in Parchment1

4 – 6 oz pieces of fish (red snapper, tilapia or sea bass)
4 Tbsn butter or coconut oil
4 12″ squares parchment or aluminum foil
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
several cloves garlic, chopped
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 – 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 Tbsn capers
1/2 tsp ground oregano
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a small saucepan, dry saute the red peppers with oregano for a few  minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool. (Optional)

Fish in Parchment2Fish in Parchment3

  • Wash and dry fish.  Place each piece of fish in the center of a square of parchment.
  • Dot each piece with butter and sprinkle with a dash of salt.
  • Add jalapenos, garlic and capers.

Fish in Parchment5 Fish in Parchment6

  • Top with onion, zucchini and redpeppers
  • Fold parchment in half the length way of the fish and fold to seal the edges together.  Crimp the sides carefully to keep liquids and steam inside.

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  • Label your parcels with a sharpie and place on a cookie sheet
  • Bake or broil for 12 to 17 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish and how many vegetables you include.

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  • To serve, spread jasmine rice in a circle on the plate.  Place fish parcel in the center and open carefully (It will be steamy).  Rip the parcel in half, lengthwise and slide fish onto the rice.  Be creative and enjoy!

Fish in Parchment11 Fish in Parchment12

Meatless Monday – Black & White Chili with Garlic Toast


Black and White Chili

Welcome to my first post as an official blogger for, a group that started the Monday Campaigns to promote health and being kind to the planet.  Their concept is simple.  Just go meat free one day a week.  Meatless Monday has since turned into a global movement (active in 29 countries) with a wide network of participating hospitals, schools, worksites and restaurants around the world.   You can read more about the history and concept by clicking on my ‘Why Meatless Monday”  tab or the Meatless Monday icon on my sidebar.

Now that it has finally rained in California, and the groundhog has determined another 6 weeks of winter (we are relieved here in the parched West, although our East Coast friends are probably feeling done already) its time to bring back the hearty soups and stews.  Black and White Chili is a tasty vegetarian (vegan, if you omit the dairy toppings) version of an old favorite.  This is a great party or family dish to share with a large group.  Just stack some bowls or mugs next to the pot of hot soup and set up a ‘Toppings Bar” with sliced avocado, scallions, various shredded cheeses, chopped jalapenos, chopped cilantro and sour cream or non-fat yogurt.  The chili goes great with warm corn or flour tortillas that can be rolled into casual burritos.  My favorite side though is garlic toast made with fresh sourdough or ciabatta.  Its a great way to use day old bread too.  Just add a tossed salad and you’ve got a complete meal.  For a creamier chili you can stir up to one cup sour cream right into the chili just before serving . To spice it up add more cayenne. For a less spicy version, reduce or omit the cayenne pepper and use half the green chilis.

Beans are one of nature’s perfect foods. They are an excellent source of protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates and low in saturated fat. They are flavorful, packed with nutrition and inexpensive to boot. Beans are very versatile and can be made to suit any palette. What more could you ask for?

Tip:  Canned beans are very convenient and I like to keep a supply in my pantry, however dry beans are inexpensive and easy to prepare.  They just take a little planning ahead.  Soaking the beans helps remove some of the indigestible sugars that cause a gassy belly.  The traditional way to prepare beans is to rinse and cover with 2-3″ cold water.  Soak 8 hours or overnight. Drain.  Or you can Quick Soak them; rinse dry beans and cover with 2-3″ cold water.  Bring to a boil and boil 2 or 3 minutes.  Remove from heat, Cover and let sit for 1 – 3 hours.  Drain. To cook the beans, cover with 2’ clean water and cook 45 minutes to 3 hours depending on type of bean.  Cooked beans should be tender but not falling apart.

Black and White Chili

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Black and White Chili pot

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 4 oz cans diced green chilis
1-2 zucchini, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth

1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional) 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 (15.5-ounce) cans black beans or one cup dry beans (cooked-see tip above)
2 (15.5-ounce) cans cannellini or great northern beans or one cup dry beans (cooked-see tip above)
  Black and White Chili beansBlack and White Chili veggies

Toppings: (Optional)

Sour Cream or plain yogurt
Shredded jack, jalapeno jack or cheddar cheese
Sliced avocado
Sliced scallions
Minced jalapenos
Chopped cilantro
  • Saute onion in olive oil until translucent.  Add garlic, chilis and  zucchini and cook another couple of minutes
  • Add broth and spices and stir to mix
  • Add cooked beans.  If using canned beans, rinse them well.  Simmer for 20 or 30 minutes.
  • Serve with toppings as desired.

Black and White Chili toppings2

Garlic Toast

4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 loaf crusty bread, sliced
3 tablespoons grated cheese, Parmigiano or Romano, optional
Chopped fresh parsley
  • Combine garlic, butter, and oil in a microwave safe dish or in a small saucepan and heat until butter is melted. Stir to combine.
  • Toast bread under broiler until its golden brown in color. (Watch carefully as it burns quickly)
  • Brush bread liberally with garlic oil. Sprinkle with cheese, if using, and parsley. Return to broiler for about a minute.Black and White Chili toast

Wheatless Wednesday – Oat Nut Bars


Oat Nut Bars

WARNING – HIGHLY ADDICTIVE!  I am often looking around the kitchen for something quick to eat with my morning coffee without making a whole production.  Most  convenience foods are not very good for you, even if the packaging tells you otherwise.  So when I saw this recipe in Bon Appetite (January, 2014) I thought it could be just the thing.  Boy was I right (or wrong)!  These are so delicious that its hard to eat just one.  Luckily, they are loaded with nutrition.  They are made with 100% whole grains, seeds and nuts which means the bran and the germ are left intact which is where most of the nutrients are. I used whole almonds, sesame seeds and added coconut flakes, since I love all things coconut, and really like the result.  I would also recommend having coconut oil in your pantry as one of the ‘good’ oils with many health benefits.  The maple syrup, even though it’s natural, is mostly sugar, but unlike white sugar it is also a very good source of zinc and Manganese and the dates add multiple vitamins and minerals.

When I first tasted them, I thought chewy was the way to go, until I re-baked half of the slices and tried them crunchy.  Wow, they got even better!!  My taste testers also preferred the crunchy over the chewy by a slight margin.  I can easily see these oat nut bars becoming an easy breakfast go-to as well as a great energy boost to get through the afternoon slump.  Try them toasted and topped with yogurt or cream cheese or my favorite way, just on their own.

Oat Nut Bars

  • Servings: 16-18 bars
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Oat Nut Bars 9

Oat Nut Bars with Coconut

Nonstick vegetable cooking spray

6 large Medjool dates, pitted and finely chopped

1 cup pure maple syrup

2 Tbsp unsalted butter or coconut oil

2 cups old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup raw almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts or cashews

1/2 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

2 Tbsp amaranth or sesame seeds

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)

1/2 tsp kosher salt

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly coat an 8 1/2×4″ loaf pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on long sides. Spray parchment.

Oat Nut Bars 10Oat Nut Bars 7

  • Bring dates and maple syrup to a boil in a small saucepan, reduce heat to medium-high, stirring often, until dates are very soft and maple syrup is slightly reduced, 8-10 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in butter/coconut oil until it is melted.  You can mash the dates with a fork or blender if desired.

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  • Toss all other ingredients in a large bowl.  Pour date mixture over the top and mix until evenly coated.  Scrape half of the mixture into prepared pan and press very firmly and evenly with a wooden spoon or spatula to compress it as much as possible (Important)
  • Add remaining oat mixture and press until very tightly packed into pan.
  • Oat Nut Bars 2 Bake until loaf is darkened in color and firm around the edges, and center gives just slightly when pressed, 45-50 minutes. Tent with foil if browning too quickly.

Oat Nut Bars 3

  • Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool in pan before turning out (it can even sit overnight).  Cut into 1/2’thick slices with a serrated knife.

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  • For crisp bars, lay slices on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown 8-10 minutes (turning once), or toast in a toaster oven.
  • Makes about 16 bars.  Bars should keep five days, tightly wrapped at room temperature (if they last that long!)

Wheatless Wednesday – Mojo Bass with Beans and Rice


Mojo Bass with Beans and Rice

Mojo Bass with Beans and Rice

After spending a week sampling food in Cuba, I couldn’t wait to get home and try some of my favorites. I had an opportunity to try many types of fish, Bass, Pargo (red snapper) and Dorado (mahi mahi).   One of my favorite preparations included fish seasoned with Mojo, which is a very popular sour orange/garlic/herb sauce topped with a combination of fruit and vegetables.  Mojo can also be cooked with chopped onions and used as a dipping sauce. I topped the fish here with chopped avocado and mango which go nicely with the Mojo sauce.

A typical Cuban meal would consist of rice and beans, cooked together or apart. When cooked together the recipe is called “Moros y Cristianos” (black beans and rice).  (We all had a laugh at this because the English translation is literally Moors and Christians which is not helpful on a menu.) If cooked separately it is called “Arroz con/y Frijoles” (rice and beans). A main course is usually pork or beef, which is not on the Good Mother Diet, however seafood is plentiful (as Cuba is an island) and it is traditional to serve some sort of side dishes like tubers, such as yuca, malanga, and potato all served either hervidas (boiled) or fritas (fried), as well as plantains and bananas). So even for vegetarians, even though it’s a meat heavy diet, there are plenty of yummy things to eat.

Mojo Fruits and Vegetables

I had some form of beans and rice for most meals, many of which had sauteed peppers or other vegetables, but I found that my favorite was a simple black beans and rice.  White rice is traditional in Cuba but I prefer a long grain brown rice which has more flavor as well as better food value.  You can soak the beans overnight and cook them as described on the label, or you can use canned beans that have been drained and rinsed. Authentic beans and rice is made using the water from the cooking calls for cooking the garlic and onions in bacon, however, I have modified this recipe from “Cuban Home Cooking,” by Cossio and Lafray, to be vegetarian/vegan.

Mojo Yucca

I also loved trying the varieties of fruits and vegetables available on this tropical island. My favorites were steamed or fried yucca, also known as cassava, and fried sweet potato.  I am not a fan of plantain but loved fried bananas.  I was skeptical that I could find yucca in my supermarket (and I didn’t even know what it looked like) so was surprised to see a sign for fresh yucca, which turns out to be a long, squashlike vegetable with a hard brown shell right in my local Whole Foods.  Ideally, I would try to eat more seasonal, local foods, however, if I want to try cooking something like yucca or mango that doesn’t grow around here, my only option is to buy it imported from Mexico or South America.  Later this week I’ll try out a few Cuban desserts and share my results.   Enjoy

Mojo Bass

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 Tbsp fresh orange juice

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

1 tsp minced garlic

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp ground oregano

1/8 tsp salt

4 5 or 6 oz bass fillets (or another white fish like snapper or cod, 1 inch thick)

cooking spray or oil for the pan

1 small mango

1 avocado, peeled, seeded and chopped

2 Tbsp fresh mint, sliced crossways into slivers

  • Preheat broiler.
  • Combine first 8 ingredients, stirring with a whisk or briskly with a fork.
  • To chop mango, cut in ‘half’ vertically just to the side of the seed on the flat side.  Then make a row of cuts in the flesh, taking care not to cut through the skin.  Then turn and make a row of cuts crosswise.  Flip the skin inside out and you can easily cut off the cubes. Click the link below for a video on how to cut a mango.

Mojo MangoMojo Avocado Mango

  • Combine mango, avocado and mint in a small bowl and set aside.  Placing the avocado pit on top will prevent it from turning brown.

Mojo Bass in marinade

  • Arrange fish, skin side down, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray or olive oil. Brush half of orange juice mixture over fish (you can marinate up to an hour); broil 4 minutes. Brush with remaining orange juice mixture; broil 4 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Top with avocado/mango mixture.

Mojo Bass Cooked

Cuban Beans and Rice (Moros y Christianos)

1 cup uncooked rice

1 cup cooked and drained black beans

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 ½ cup vegetable broth (1/3  cup more if using brown rice)

½ onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • Saute onion and garlic in 1 Tbsn oil on medium heat until onion is translucent. Remove from pan and set aside.
  • Add rice to the pan and saute until it starts to crackle.
  • Add vegetable broth, cover and let cook over medium low until the rice is tender but not mushy (brown rice will take longer).
  • Add the beans and onion/garlic mixture and 1 Tbsn oil and cook a few minutes longer. Serve warm.

Mojo yucca3Mojo Yucca2

Yucca (Cassava)

1 or 2 fresh Yucca(or frozen)

1 tsp salt

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

2 Tbsn lemon juice

1/3  cup olive oil

  • Cut the ends off the yucca, then cut it in half, peel with a sharp knife and cut into large pieces.
  • Place yucca into a large pot and cover with water. Add salt. Boil until tender (about 30 minutes).
  • Drain off water and set aside.
  • Sprinkle with garlic and add lemon juice.
  • In a separate pan, heat olive oil until it begins to bubble. Pour over yucca and gently mix. Serve warm.

Fried Sweet Potato and Banana

1-2  sweet potatoes

2-4 bananas (unripe to medium ripe)

2-3 Tbsn olive oil, coconut oil or  avocado oil

  • Peel sweet potatoes and slice horizontally
  • Peel and slice bananas and slice horizontally
  • Heat oil in a heavy pan and fry on medium high heat until browned on both sides.
  • Serve immediately

Mojo Bass with Beans and Rice